Posted on June 19, 2017
It seems like a simple contract: We elect men and women to represent us, and their votes reflect our concerns about issues that are important to us. They are responsive to our needs and the issues we value. But manipulated voting maps in Michigan and other states can make elected seats so “safe,” the voices of voters can get the silent treatment.
Elected leaders who are sure they will win re-election, regardless of what they do, can become less responsive to voter concerns, particularly concerns of voters in a district’s minority party. When elected leaders win by 10, 20, maybe even 30 percent, what incentive do they have to listen to dissenting views among their voters? None. This is a big concern and it happens on both sides of the aisle. Consider a few recent examples from Republicans and Democrats.Read more...
Posted on June 12, 2017
Imagine you're playing cards, but when you don't like the hand you're dealt you reshuffle the deck until you deal yourself a better hand. Is that fair? Or is it stacking the deck to make sure the house always wins? Right now this is how the politicians in most states shuffle our voting districts around.
Here in Michigan, our votes determine who we elect to represent us. However, every 10 years the political parties in charge can re-draw the lines of our districts to decide which of our votes go where.Adjusting district maps is necessary because populations change and shift over time — but letting politicians draw the lines to advantage their own parties? That allows partisan redistricting by drawing voting districts to serve the party in charge of the process. It’s also known as gerrymandering and Michigan is one of 37 states that allows our legislators draw our districts.Read more...
Posted on June 03, 2017
We have a system of representative government, meaning that our state is divided into districts, and voters in each vote to send representatives to our state House and Senate, and to the U.S. House of Representatives. Those districts, in Michigan, are drawn by people we elect. Seems like a good system, right? We elect men and women, who take our interests to heart when they redraw the district voting maps every 10 years.
But that’s not necessarily happening. Things are out of whack because the men and women we elect have put party first when drawing voting maps, and that’s not good for anyone. In a fair system, districts are drawn in a transparent and impartial way for the purpose of democratic representation, not for the benefit of one party or another.
Posted on April 30, 2017
We all like to win. It’s a natural human instinct. But we also have a natural drive for fairness. Let’s talk about both.
But first, imagine a 100-yard dash between two runners. One runner works at the race track and has the power to set up the race. In order to get a leg up on their opponent, this runner adds 10 hurdles to their opponent’s lane and takes a jackhammer to the concrete while leaving their lane in perfect condition. Who do you think will win?Read more...
Posted on April 20, 2017
It’s worth asking the question. In order to answer, first consider the definition of gerrymandering.
“Gerrymander” is both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it is the process of manipulating voting maps to favor one party over another. As a noun, it is the manipulated voting map itself. There are two parts to this definition: the manipulation by a partisan redrawing process, and the advantage the end result gives to the party that drew the maps. We’ll get to whether Michigan has partisan voting maps, but first, let’s answer a basic question.
Posted on April 20, 2017
How can you tell if you live in a gerrymandered district and just what does “gerrymandering” mean, anyway? Well, it’s a long word with an even longer history. Basically, gerrymandering happens when politicians manipulate voting maps to keep themselves or their parties in office at the expense of your interests. Without a doubt, it can lead to some situations that are even more complex than the word used to describe it.
So, how can you tell if your district was drawn for the benefit of politicians and not to ensure a fair, transparent, and democratic process where YOUR vote counts?